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Spanning The Globe October 2023

It’s time to go spanning the globe for anatomy news and notes:



Wider Definition of Evolution

An article in Cornell University’s College of Arts & Sciences piqued our interest. The article was about a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about the work of an interdisciplinary group of researchers that recognizes a “missing law of nature.” The new thinking suggests that you can take Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and also apply to complex systems like planets, stars, atoms, and minerals. The paper was titled, “On the roles of function and selection in evolving systems.”


NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


As an example, the Cornell University article pointed to the stars. Early stars, shortly after the big bang, started with only hydrogen and helium. They “used” those elements to make 20 more elements. And the following generation of stars “built on that diversity to produce almost 100 more elements.”


That’s evolution!


Another Biased Assumption Bites the Dust

Scrap those old notions and images in your head of “Man the Hunter.” Think of a typical museum diorama depicting prehistoric man. Figurines often depict the men with spears after prey while the women stay home for domestic chores. It’s wrong.


A detailed article in Scientific American concludes: “Now when you think of ‘cave people,’ we hope, you will imagine a mixed-sex group of hunters encircling an errant reindeer or knapping stone tools together rather than a heavy-browed man with a club over one shoulder and a trailing bride. Hunting may have been remade as a masculine activity in recent times, but for most of human history, it belonged to everyone.”


Revelations in The Melt

We all know that climate change means glaciers and polar ice caps are shrinking as the planet warms. The great thaw is revealing long-buried artifacts, bodies, and viruses, according to this fascinating article in Popular Science.


The receding ice is allowing archaeologists to explore areas that were once too dangerous. Lars Holger Pilo, a glacial archaeologist and co-director of a project in Norway known as Secrets of the Ice, calls the work “dark archaeology” because it’s only possible (“a tiny silver lining”) due to the ongoing climate crisis.


“Normal” Temps

We are cooler than you think. Or maybe there is no true “normal” body temperature. Age impacts our temperature. So does time of day. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine analyzed data from 120,000 adults who visited Stanford Health Care from 2008 to 2017. (That is a ton of data!)


Average temperature? “Around” 97.9—nearly a degree lower than what we were all taught in school.


That 98.6 figure dates back to 1868 and a German physician named Carl Wunderlich, who took 1 million readings from 25,000 people.


In fact, however, Wunderlich reported a range of temperatures. Somehow, 98.6 became the popular number that stuck. But that number, said one scientist at Stanford University in this article in Smithsonian Magazine, created a “false dichotomy” of what’s normal and what’s not.


One other possible trend is that modern science has improved health in humans and, as a result, we aren’t spiking fevers. Less inflammation means cooler bodies? Maybe?


The new study definitely found a difference between men and women, young and old, and morning versus night.


Wondering if your temperature is within “normal” ranges? This online Personalized Temperature Range tool, built by the researchers, might offer just the insight you need.

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